Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 14, 2004

Area churches gather names on petition to define marriage

By Lynda Jensen

Sixteen churches from the Howard Lake and Cokato areas gathered more than 1,000 signatures in favor of a US constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage recently.

The churches, which represent a wide range of denominations, joined forces to collect the petition, which they plan to present to political leaders.

“America is facing a crisis. It’s about to make its most crucial decision regarding the future of the American family,” commented Pastor Daniel Runke of Albion Evangelical Free Church of Cokato.

“You can’t stay neutral on this issue,” agreed Father Timothy Cloutier of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Churches that participated are:

• St. James Lutheran Church of Howard Lake,

• St. John’s Lutheran Church of Howard Lake,

• St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Waverly,

• Howard Lake Christian Church

• Albion Evangelical Free Church, north of Howard Lake

• Presbyterian Church of Howard Lake

• Good Shepherd Free Lutheran of Cokato,

• Harvest Community Church of Winsted,

• First Baptist Church of Cokato,

• Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Maple Lake,

• Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church of Kingston (near Dassel),

• New Life Assembly of God of Cokato,

• Buffalo Evangelical Free Church,

• Elim Mission Church of Cokato, and

• Lamson Evangelical Free Church of Dassel

• the Dassel Church of Christ.

Specifically, the petition reads “A petition to support a US constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.

“Traditional marriage between a man and woman has been the foundation of the family and every civil society in recorded history.

“Therefore, we urge the support of a federal marriage amendment to protect traditional marriage between one woman and one man.

“We the undersigned urge our senators and Minnesota representatives to push this constitutional amendment and to send it on the individual states for approval. This article has already been introduced in Congress but is still waiting for public pressure to be brought up.

“It may be cited as the ‘Federal Marriage Amendment.’

“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

“Neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and woman.”

The wording for the petition was taken from the words of the amendment that has already been introduced in Congress, but as of yet has not been acted on, Runke said.

The intent is to allow the people, rather than a few judges, define what marriage is, and what marriage has been for thousands of years, Runke said.

The churches are also calling for members to contact political leaders in Washington (contact information is on the Viewpoints Page).

Many Christian leaders, including Chuck Colson, and Dr. James Dobson, are predicting more states will be forced to recognize and condone same-sex marriages, which inherently endorses ideology that is contrary to Biblical and Christian-Judeo teachings.

Sixty two percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, as polled in February by Time/CNN.

Many Christian scholars are assuming that school textbooks will be rewritten to depict man/man and woman/woman relationships, and that American culture will be reshaped to accept homosexuality, despite moral convictions otherwise.

In addition, the law may force employers to pay benefits for new spouses and dependents made official by same-sex marriage, even if the moral values of the employer do not match this.

On a national level, the amendment proposed for the US constitution is being hung up by mainly DFL members of Congress, Runke noted.

Both US senators from Minnesota released statements about the issue, along with US. Rep. Mark Kennedy.

Sen. Mark Dayton opposes the amendment and instead wishes to “adopt a different term, such as ‘marital contract.”

Sen. Norm Coleman said he is in favor of protecting traditional marriage in the Constitution; saying “I believe the time has come.”

“I believe the constitution will be amended on the question of marriage – the real question before us is whether it will be amended by unelected judges insistent upon overstepping their constitutional authority or by the true source of sovereignty in the United States, the American people,” Coleman wrote in a May press release.

Nevertheless, Runke pointed out that Coleman has yet to act on the amendment, which has been introduced in the Senate.

Kennedy stated the following “Marriage is by definition the bringing together of a man and a woman.

“In my opinion, any attempt to rewrite this definition is unwise.

“For this reason, I have cosponsored a constitutional amendment stating that marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.

“In addition to its strong support in Congress, the President has also recently weighed in on behalf of a Constitutional Amendment.

“As you know, a small group of liberals has successfully used the courts to try and dismantle our national traditions, including the institution of marriage.

“This attack has included court cases from Texas, Massachusetts and San Francisco. These rulings could have harmful consequences for our democracy, with judges acting as legislators and usurping the authority of legislators and voters,” Kennedy stated.

“Many politicians (especially the DFL) seem to take the easy way out by saying they are not for same-sex marriage, but they are also saying they don’t see a need to strengthen the law to protect from the judges who will overturn it,” Runke said.

“These politicians also have no problem voting for the judges who will overturn it,” he said. Others are avoiding the issue during election time.

President George W. Bush has gone on record, saying “I will defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in cultures and by every religious faith.”

Presidential candidate John Kerry opposed the amendment that would define a marriage as between one man and one woman.

“ It is terribly difficult to pass a constitutional amendment under the best of circumstances,” noted Dobson, in a written correspondence to churches. “It requires a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and passage by three-fourths of the state legislatures. That has only occurred 27 times in our 228 year history.”

“It will certainly not be easily accomplished this time,” Dobson noted. “As I write, 34 senators (seven Republicans and 27 Democrats) are reportedly planning to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment,” Dobson wrote.

To answer this, Dobson urged a national outcry, with people contacting their legislators about their wishes.

On a statewide level, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is in favor of the amendment, announced last week it was lower on his priority list. Pawlenty has stated that the people of Minnesota should be allowed to have a voice in this issue.

State Sen. Dean Johnson (D Willmar) and the DFL senate prevented an amendment that was introduced by Michelle Bachmann (R Stillwater) that would have given the people of Minnesota the right this fall at the ballot to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The Minnesota Senate and House must both pass legislation requesting an issue to be brought before the voters of Minnesota.  The governor has no constitutional say in bringing the issue to the voters. 

A constitutional amendment can only be voted on in a general election year (every 2 years).  2004 is a General Election year.  The next general election year is 2006.

For the marriage amendment to be on the November 2004 ballot, this means:   

1) The governor must call a special session.  Only the governor has the power to call a special session.

2) Both the Senate and the House must pass marriage amendment legislation.

If this does not happen the next time for a constitutional amendment is 2006 (the next general election).

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